He explores

"Traveling at the Speed of Life"

Category: Australia

Big Cities Down Under: Where to start?

One of the first big decisions I had to make before starting my journey Down Under was where to start. To which city should I book my flight? Even though spontaneous travel is great, it always serves you good to do a bit of research before heading off to a new place. Here follows a brief guide to 6 of the most famous big cities in Australia and what you can expect from them.

Sidney
With some of the world’s most renowned landmarks, including the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, Sidney gives off a vibe of big, bright and fashionable. A myriad of galleries, churches, theatres and museums guarantees that you’ll get your culture fix. Colonization and Asian migration has left its unmistakable imprint on the city and the variety and quality of restaurants is almost certainly the best in the country. The coastline offers great beaches, like the famed Bondi Beach, and a short drive away the Blue Mountains tower up in the clouds.

Sidney
Melbourne
Melbourne is also known as the culture and sports capital of Australia.  Art, music and sport is an integral part of the Melbournian spirit and day to day life. Captivating street art and graffiti in the city center, bars that promote an alternative, independent music scene, hipster coffee culture and sport events like Australia Open reflects the essence of the city. A city with an edge and intimate atmosphere. Just on the outskirts of Melbourne you can embark on one of the world’s most beautiful coastal drives along the Great Ocean Road or you can catch a cheap flight to the serene island of Tasmania.

Melbourne
Cairns
Compared to Sidney and Melbourne Cairns feels very small with a CBD (center) that clearly caters for tourists. Everything you need is within walking distance: Restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets. Yet, the most prominent, appealing part of the center is the Esplanade, where you can take a relaxing stroll along the beachside. The waters are croc-infected but Cairns has made up for this by creating a purpose built lagoon, where you can take a refreshing swim. With the Daintree Rainforest to the north and the Great Barrier Reef to the east, the city is an ideal base for hiking, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cairns
Brisbane
Brisbane, a big brother version of Cairns, is the sunny, refined capital city of Queensland, surrounded by vibrant urban villages. Each suburb has its own distinct range of restaurants, cafés and bars. It’s the perfect place to combine art and outdoor adventures like kayaking and rock climbing. The unique, man-made riverside Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner city beach, offers an escape from the heat. Brisbane is the perfect gateway to venture into the fun of the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south with its theme parks, lively nightlife, breathtaking beaches and surf culture.

Brisbane
Perth

Perth is Australia’s sunniest capital, a relaxed city with a perfectly balanced mix between urban cool and raw natural splendor. The compact CBD (center) with its great selection of restaurants, bars, shopping and cultural spaces gives it an intimate ambience and makes it seem a lot smaller than it is. Romantic Kings Park, one of the world’s largest inner city parks, offers stunning views of the city. The peaceful, car-free  paradise of Rottnest Island, famed for its local population of Quokkas, is just a short ferry ride away and south of Perth you’ll find Margaret River where you can embrace the good things in life like wine, cheese and chocolate.

Perth
Darwin
Darwin is a laid-back, charismatic city situated on the edge of a harbor in the tropical north of Australia with a stunningly lush, surrounding landscape. Travelers will rejoice in the variety of hip street-side restaurants and bars, exceptional, vibrant outdoor markets, innovative museums that celebrate a city with a (in Australian terms) long, bitter past and galleries which showcase the region’s rich indigenous art. Besides being within reasonable distance to the breathtaking Kakadu National Park, Darwin is also the perfect gateway to Asia, which makes it tempting to book a cheap, short getaway to Indonesia.

Darwin
One last thing you need to keep in mind before booking your flight is the weather. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just hot Down Under! Australia’s seasons are at opposite times to the northern hemisphere, meaning Summer is from December to February and Winter from June to August. As a rule of thumb the south is a lot cooler than the north and characterized by 4 seasons, with the exception of Perth, whereas the tropical north only has a wet and dry season. The wet season occurs between November and April, and the dry season between May and October.

Wherever you choose to go, each city is unique and special in its own way. But the best advice I can give you is to go and explore places beyond the big cities – there is so much more to this vast, epic continent.

 

The Curious Case of Lost Thongs

A lot of things bind us together as travelers. The insatiable hunger to see the world. Trying to make ends meet on a low budget. The frustration of things not turning out the way you planned. The ability to swear in 5 different languages and last but not least: The curse of lost thongs! You know, the ones you wear on your feet – not the other kind. If you’ve ever been backpacking, I’m sure you can relate to this post.

Thongs seem to disappear in the most curious ways, kind of like the mythical lost sock. I’ve lost count of just how many I’ve had to buy while traveling Asia and Australia. Here’s 5 real-life examples of curious cases of lost thongs:

1st case: The Beach Party
This is a classic case! Eventually most backpackers end up partying on a beach, drinking cocktails and beers, dancing till the break of dawn. At some point or another, you’re most likely to get the brilliant idea to take off your thongs to feel the sand beneath your feet. That’s the moment when the curious case of lost thongs strikes! This happened to me during a crazy Full Moon Party in Thailand. My thongs lost and gone, without a trace, like a ship in the Bermuda Triangle.

2nd case: The Houdini
Landing a job in regional Australia I invested in a new pair of decent thongs, which were to last me for the 3 months length of my work stay. They lasted 1 week! To this day I’m not quite sure what happened to them. However, I’ve got an idea of where and when they were lost. Going to a swimming hole to chill after a long day’s work they suddenly disappeared. I looked for them everywhere, but no luck. The next day my thongs, or so I thought, magically reappeared on the feet of one of my co-workers, who blankly denied them being mine.

3rd case: The Fire
One of the best things about road tripping and camping is the campfires. One chilly night in Australia, I was enjoying the warmth and coziness of a campfire in good company. My feet were freezing, so I decided to rest them on one of the stones surrounding the fire. With my thongs on! 5 minutes later someone in our group cried out: “What’s that smell!?” That same instant smoke started coming out from under my feet, which were not so cold anymore, rather burning hot. Another good pair of thongs – melting away.

4th case: The Quicksand
After 3 days of living as castaways on an island in The Whitsundays, it was time for my travel partner and I to get back to civilization. We heard our boat taxi coming and were suddenly in a hurry bringing all our camping gear down to the beach. Running back and forth between the boat and our camping spot, we were finally down to the last run. About 20 paces from the boat my right foot got stuck in the wet sand. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to pull it out and when I finally succeeded, my thong was gone! In a state of frenzy, I knelt down, dug my hand deep down into the sand and searched for it everywhere, while the people on the boat impatiently were signaling me to hurry up. It turned out to be mission impossible to salvage my beloved thong.

5th case: The Flood
It’s not always easy finding a good, free camping spot, when you’re in a city in Australia. However, my travel partner and I did so, when we were on the Gold Coast, trying to find a place in the dark. Public barbeque, toilets and a beautiful river as a backdrop. Or so we thought. We decided to sleep in our car instead of our tent and to make enough space we left half of our stuff outside. The following morning we woke up to the sound of birds singing and water flowing. Blissfully ignorant, we rubbed our eyes and looked outside. Then we rubbed our eyes some more and looked again, while reality slowly sank in. We had parked our car on a boat ramp subject to rising water levels and were now surrounded by it, knee-deep! The stuff that we had left outside, including my thongs, was peacefully floating down the river.

So, why is it that thongs disappear in the most curious ways? My theory is that they feel enslaved. Thongs have an innate urge to free themselves and escape to a safe haven, a sort of thong-paradise, where there are no feet to oppress them.

What about you? Have you lost any thongs recently? (: Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your story!

With a person you only get one chance

You might wonder what an entry about love is doing here on a travel blog. Well, love is a part of life wherever you go, just as a fish is part of water. It is often when we dare to let go, not consciously searching and feel free down to our very bones that it sneaks up on us, stealthily, like a ninja in the dark. Most people are in that state of mind when they travel.

So was I upon my arrival in Australia more than a year ago. Love was never part of my plan. But on the other hand, it was also not not part of my plan. I wasn’t consciously searching for it and the more I got into the spirit of traveling, the more free and liberated I felt. This meant that subconsciously I started opening up my mind and heart to every new experience on the road, paving the way for love encounters. Fate had 2 in store for me.

The 1st one was brief, like dewdrop in the morning, but enchanting and passionate. Yet, outer circumstances, which I had no control of, meant that it didn’t have time to evolve. However, that doesn’t make it a less meaningful experience, the same way a shooting star can make a significant impression on you, before you even have time to grasp its beauty.

The 2nd encounter, on the other hand, had the right conditions to blossom. We met in a hostel in Cairns on her very first day in the country and I instantly felt a strong connection to her. The chemistry between us was otherworldly and the foundation for a genuine friendship was laid. She was quirky and crazy. Crazy in the way that it becomes an art form and not a reason to get institutionalized. And most importantly, she made me feel crazy… crazy about her.

We ended up traveling around the country on a 7-month road trip. To learn and grow is one of the main reasons I travel. And boy, did I learn and grow from traveling with her. Imagine spending 24/7 with the same person for 7 months. It’s not always a walk in the park. We had our fights, our ups and downs, but we worked our way through it. Looking back now, there’s been more sunshine than clouds, more smiles than frowns and that’s what really counts in the end. Ultimately, this is anticipating that the figurative traveling you do in getting to know a person is incomparable with any physical form of travel around the world. And if you meet the right person, it could be a life long journey.

However, our relationship ended at the final stage of the trip. The main reason being that I was caught between my passion for traveling and my passion to find true love. She was rather fed up with the traveling, I wasn’t ready to compromise and that meant losing her. However, I was ready to chase her down once I finished my journey in Oceania. She blankly rejected that possibility with this single statement, which has left a lingering trace in my mind: “A country will always be there, but with a person you only get one chance”.

Now I’m haunted by all the damned “what-if-questions”. What if she just wasn’t the right person for me after all? Would my decision have been any different otherwise? Is there really any one out there who’s right for you? And if so, how can you know for sure? What if it just wasn’t the right timing? She being ready to settle down, me being happy to live a nomadic life for years to come. And the worst question of them all: What if I have given up long term happiness and a life full of passion and adventures with another person for short term happiness on a single adventure on my own? Damn you, wanderlust gene!

I’m now trying to come to terms with the consequences of my choice. And at the end of the day, that’s all we can really do. Accept the choices we make and the things we have to give up in the making. We can’t have everything and there’s no way of knowing whether you made the right choice or not. That’s the nature of choice. Only time with tell. And if time tells us that we were wrong, we can choose to learn from our mistakes and not let them define who we are in the present. In the meantime, we can work towards having a peace of mind and live without regrets. First step being to stop asking ourselves the self-destructive question, “What if?”, which will only leave us desolate and lost. That’s what I’m going to do, even though I now have no doubt in my mind that she was right: With a person, you really do only get one chance.

The Beauty of being Broke

It was inevitable. I’m broke. Completely broke. 7 months road trip around the massive continent of Australia with no money coming in has left its mark on my miserable bank account.

Since I finished studying and started working 5 years ago, I’ve had financial security and fair savings to fund my travels in between jobs. 1 year in Asia. And 1 year in Australia. So hitting rock bottom is like meeting an old archenemy and having to deal with him all over again. I have to get familiar with the feeling of being broke. It took a while. At first I panicked! I desperately searched for common ways of keeping my head above water, looking for jobs online and in real-life, considering heading back home if it all went wrong. But after a while I started to see my situation in a new light. A burning light of possibilities instead of a dark gloom of obstacles.

Suddenly I felt liberated in the realization that money didn’t mean that much to me. To be honest it never really did. I’ve always seen it as a means to an end, an instrument to “buy” experiences, not things, and make lasting memories, which, I believe, is a source of long term happiness. But with less than 100 dollars left on my account, being stuck in a foreign country, it became a realization based on experience, rather than an imaginative, hypothetical ideal of the mind. Now I was forced to thinking outside the box of a way that I could keep my dream alive. My dream to keep on traveling.

Over the last couple of years, I came up with many ideas of how to avoid going back to a 9-5 job, so in reality the concepts were already there. However, there had never been any action behind them. Why? Simply because I didn’t need to act. I had enough money to keep on going. But now that I’m broke I can no longer procrastinate. The situation has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve realized, that’s the moment when we start growing and becoming true to ourselves.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new”.
Brian Tracey

You see, we all have a creative, ideal vision of the future and ourselves in our mind. Of what, where and how we want to be further up the road. Sadly, in most cases that vision stays a dream because life gets comfortable. It’s so easy getting caught up in everyday life and procrastinate. We convince ourselves that we are not quite ready yet and that we don’t have enough time or money to tend to our passions. No time to work towards becoming the rock star you always envisioned, writing that book, you always imagined writing or fulfilling your dream of sailing the 7 seas with Captain Jack Sparrow. All it takes to stay trapped in the vicious circle is one excuse and that trickster mind of ours is a master at excuses, making up self-limiting beliefs, resistance and mental obstacles. Nonetheless, all it takes to break out of the circle is one single step. One step forward into the abyss of the unknown, where you can discover hidden parts of yourself and make dreams come true. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, fear will reach out for you on the way down, but I can assure you it’s going to be worth it. Just don’t wait till you’re ready – then you’re going to wait forever!

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story”.
Cheryl Strayed

So I started to tell myself a different story. A story with no room for excuses. A story where anything was possible. First of all I finally bought that strap for my guitar so I can start busking, earning a few pennies. Second of all I’m doing what you see now. Writing. Blogging. I’ve always loved writing as much as I love reading. Last but not least I’ve stopped seeing an empty bank account as an immovable obstacle to travelling. I’ve got a teaching background, so I might just teach abroad, combining work and travel. I might volunteer my way around the world, which is one of the most rewarding ways of traveling in my opinion. I might do some Wwoofing, couchsurfing and hitchhiking. All ways to keep my dream alive, just a little bit longer. As long as we are willing to step out of our comfort zones the possibilities are endless and our imagination is the only limit.

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